English & EAL

Creating A Killer Contention For Your Oral Presentation

Lisa Tran

January 24, 2020

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The following is a snippet from my study guide, How To Write A Killer Oral Presentation. It's filled with unique advice that takes you from start to finish in mimicking the techniques used by a perfect-scorer VCE Year 12 student. You may want to start off reading Our Ultimate Guide to Oral Presentations and come back to this blog if you haven't already!

This blog covers the first step within Pillar 2: Writing The ‘This Is-Going-To-Blow-You-Away’ Speech. Once you've chosen an interesting topic and have researched all of its different viewpoints, it's time to formulate your contention. Often, creating a killer contention is about avoiding some common traps that will make your overall presentation boring, bland and just like the rest of your cohorts'.

So, I like to avoid:

Broad, overarching statements

If you think your contention is, ‘abortion in Australia’ then you’re wrong. This is simply not a contention! A contention is an opinion. The example, ‘abortion in Australia’ offers no insight into your opinion on the issue at all. Instead, ‘We need to consider women’s mental health when judging their decision on abortion’ is an opinion.

A contention that is just plain obvious

Let’s say we use the issue of ‘homelessness in Australia’. Arguing ‘homelessness in Australia is a problem’ or ‘we need to fix the homelessness issue in Australia’ just isn’t going to cut it because you’d never argue the opposite, ‘homelessness is great’. There are no differing viewpoints against your contention which means that you have nothing to argue against.

You need to be more specific with your issue - that’s why you looked up all those viewpoints in your research. For example, you could contend, ‘We need to fix the problems in homes in order to fix Australia’s homeless issue.’ This does has varied viewpoints because someone else’s solution could be to give homeless people greater access to help.

TEST: Before you move on to writing structure, ask yourself, can people argue against my contention? If yes, proceed ahead! If no, you’ll need to revise your contention again. Do this over and over until you can confidently answer ‘yes’ to the above question.

Avoid a contention that is generally accepted as true in today’s age

When climate change first came onto the radar, the main debate was whether it was a real or a conspiracy theory. These discussions were in full force over 5+ years ago. These days (with the exception of climate change skeptics of course), discussion on climate change revolves more heavily around the slow pace of policy implementation, intergenerational effects of climate change, and mental health surrounding climate change.

Rather than arguing, ‘Climate change is real?’ (which your teacher has probably listened to a dozen times), you’re better suited to argue ‘Young people, not governments, should lead the fight against climate change’. Not only does this tie into the LSG belief that you should be more specific with your issue, it’ll also mean that your contention is relevant to today.

Now it's your turn. Give it a go! You might need to take a few tries to get your contention right, and that's absolutely OK.

If even after that you’re still unsure about your contention, make it a priority to speak to your teacher about it. Ask them if they could review your proposed contention and offer you any constructive feedback. Heck, even if you are confident with your contention, I’d ask your teacher anyway for any insight you mightn’t have thought of.

Wondering where to go from here? Well, luckily, my eBook, How To Write A Killer Oral Presentation, details my exact step-by-step process so you can get that A+ in your SAC this year.

  • Access a step-by-step guide on how to write your Oral Presentation with simple, easy-to-follow advice
  • Read and analyse sample A+ Oral Presentations with EVERY speech annotated and broken down on HOW and WHY students achieved A+ so you reach your goal
  • Learn how to stand out from other students with advice on your speech delivery

Sounds like something that'd help you? I think so too! Access the full eBook by clicking here!

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Written by Lisa Tran, who achieved FULL marks in her Oral Presentation:

  • How to choose, plan and write your oral presentation and written explanation
  • A simple, persuasive speech structure that will blow your audience away
  • All essays FULLY annotated so you know exactly what you need to do and what not to do
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